Self Generating Architecture
Aquarium and Research-Development Center
Master of Architecture Thesis Project
The hybrid Aquarium and Research-Development Center at Pier 28 on the San Francisco waterfront uses organic and self-generating materials. The design features separate spaces for lab users, students, and visitors, as well as shared spaces for interaction and collaboration. Artificial metabolic organisms – protocells that in time grow into synthetic limestone – help to decrease levels of carbon dioxide while reinforcing the existing structure. The emerging system creates a foundation reef, skeleton, and envelope for the new building.
The protocells, initially hypothesized by Rachel Armstrong and Neil Spiller, are programmed to have two metabolic processes: settlement and generation. An aqueous environment is needed, such as Pier 28 for settling into dark areas while absorbing minerals and dissolved carbon dioxide for building the artificial limestone reef.
Since coral reefs grow on limestone, this solution offers protection for marine species, which has the potential to enhance biodiversity. The aquarium program also capitalizes on this effect. The proposal creates a grown seawall that breaks up wave energy through diffusion. It is a speculative solution for future development in coastal cities and areas at increased risk from ocean storm surges due to climate change.